You know its not Christmas any more, the priest has gone back to his green cloths and you are settling into ordinary time. Then it his you lent starts in less than two weeks and it has crept up on you. But fear not, there is still plenty of time for you to prepare and get ready.
"What are you doing for Lent?” he asks me. Or the more prevalent “What
are you giving up for Lent this year?” As innocent as these questions
seem, I find them problematic for several reasons. The motivations
behind the asker may be only curiosity, but often times it goes beyond
that. The asker may be soliciting at response so that they can compare
their sacrifice to God to mine and see “who God will be more pleased
with”. Other times they are just asking so they can tell me what they
are planning to. “Oh, that’s great you’re doing that, let me tell you
what I am going to do.” Neither of these things helps us do what the
real mission of Lent is.
The Church sets aside a large chunk of the
year so that we might grow closer to God through penance, sacrifice and
almsgiving. Whether this is through sacrifice or through giving more of
one’s self doesn’t matter. Less important is the means of which
someone else is trying to accomplish this same thing. This is true in
the fact that what fits one person’s spirituality and is bad for someone
else’s. You are only drinking water for the entire 40 days, that’s
great. If I don’t drink some kind of juice in the morning to give my
blood sugar a boost I get a headache and am cranky the rest of the day.
That won’t help me or anyone else. Your doing the Rosary everyday for
Lent, that’s great. Someone else finds the Rosary repetitive and gets
easily distracted, they prefers the Divine Mercy Chaplet. That is
better for them.
My point is that Lent is not a time to show off or put
our piety on display for others to marvel at. It is a time to renew
our relationship with God through self-giving in thanksgiving for the
actions Christ accomplished in the cross through the means that do that
best for our self. Maybe your Lent is doing nothing external, but
taking a long hard look at your internal self and seeing what can be
improved, then doing it, that’s great too.
So, when some one asks me
this year what I am doing for Lent, I will tell them “Taking these 40
days to drawn closer to Jesus Christ in the way that works for me and by
imitating his love for others in my everyday life.” Hope you have a
good fruitful Lenten Journey